Will birds eat Beautyberry bush berries?

catherinet(5 IN)October 8, 2006

Hi,

My Beautyberry bush is loaded with berries, but nobody's interested in them. Do they need to freeze first, before the birds like them??

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Have the berries changed color yet? My sister and I both have Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion' (mine is containered) but hers gets stripped by the robins in late fall. I actually stood there last year in awe watching as almost a dozen robins had literally perched on it and were gobbling the berries up... and robins ain't exactly tiny birds like sparrows or finches. They literally ate every single berry off the bush. I guess I expected that they would have prefered the american beautyberry instead and would have left the berries on Profusion, as ornamental as that one is. I do also have a baby Callicarpa americana, but this was its first year from a cutting last year, so it hadn't bloomed yet this year and it'll probably be going to bed soon without doing so.

I would give it some time as the birds might not be desperate yet. I do know that some have posted over the years that birds had ignored their beautyberries but I expect that could have been due to the availability of nearby tastier berries (eg., leftover blueberries, elderberries, berries from viburnums, etc).

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 3:00PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

OMG! Do they ever! Seeing birds get absolutely drunk on the berries is an annual event in some locations! This was in the deep South, where freezing is not an issue.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 3:31PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Hmmm. Nothing eats them at my place.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2006 at 11:33PM
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EGO45(6bCT)

My 'Profusion' usually become leafless in late November. Within one week after that it also become berry-less.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 1:28AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I don't think the birds eat them here. After a couple of frosts they just shrivel and turn brown. I have C. dichotoma 'Issai'.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 11:37AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Isn't that odd? They are considered an important bird plant, and I would have thought that to be true everywhere. Interesting!

I recall a year when some prissy Hilton Head residents tried to 'make' their development company get rid the BB in the common areas, as the birds were messing up their cars and outdoor furniture with purple tinged bombs. ;-)

    Bookmark   October 9, 2006 at 12:33PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Thanks everyone!
I apologize for forgetting I posted this question! I was reminded this morning when I looked out at the bushes just overloaded with berries. Maybe they are the kind of berries that taste better after freezing??
We have tons of birds here, so I hope they get some use out of the bushes. The berries sure are pretty.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2006 at 5:04PM
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catherinet(5 IN)

Hi again,
I'm seeing robins eating the berries now. But.....I'm thinking it might be a hard shrub for larger birds, because the branches are so droopy, and its hard for the birds to settle on them to eat.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2006 at 10:13AM
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cfmuehling(7b DC/MD burbs)

Hmmm.
I have 2 varieties, the names of which escape me, but birds ignore them both. I kind of figured they were like the nandina berries: nothing but color.

Christine

    Bookmark   October 23, 2006 at 2:33PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Here's the 'deal' with the Beautyberry. Once it begins to ferment on the shrubs, more birds will find them attractive. They are very acidic, and need a little 'aging' before they will be a preferred entree. That's why they literally become intoxicated and behave badly (ha ha ha).

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 1:39PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

I have Issai and Profusion. Profusion's flowers gets sterilized by little tumbling flower beetles so I don't get many berries but Issai is full by fall. Now there are hardly any left and since they aren't on the ground, I have to assume something ate them. The shrub was stripped very quickly as soon as we got frost.
It took a couple of years for the birds/critters to take notice of some of my offerings or for certain shrubs to grow strong enough for perching. This is the first year that I have wildlife eating rose hips and ilex pendunculosa.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 11:01AM
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shrubs_n_bulbs(z8/9 UK)

Berries are for eating. By somebody. Sometime. If they don't get eaten in your area, maybe you don't have the right kind of birds, or maybe they just aren't hungry enough :)

Even Daphne berries, deadly poisonous, get eaten by something. I'm not positive what it is, maybe it died!

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 11:38AM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Well, I replied earlier that none do at my place. But this year they are. Several robins are having a great time.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2006 at 6:24PM
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NHBabs(4b-5aNH)

"But.....I'm thinking it might be a hard shrub for larger birds, because the branches are so droopy, and its hard for the birds to settle on them to eat."

Catherine - This statement brought to mind watching grouse (which are medium large, rather ungainly birds) feeding on crabapples in late winter in a rather young tree. The branches wobbled, the birds flapped and staggered trying to keep their balance, but the tree was eventually stripped of fruit. It kept us entertained for at least a half hour, with half a dozen grouse in such a small tree. I guess if they are hungry enough, they will work for the food.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 6:05PM
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